I attended the 2020 League of Geeks RECON event February 22nd and 23rd. RECON involved many activities in several different rooms in Armstrong and it was a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, was incredibly fun to go to. On the morning of the 22nd I participated in the Game Awards. This was the first year RECON was holding a Game Awards where students on campus could turn in the games they have created to be played by others at RECON and by a judge. I turned in two games with two different teams. I created a board game based off of the infuriating video game I Am Bread with Jeremy, Juliette, and Steven during our IMS 211 class and we decided to put that into the running. I also turned in a game called Nexia that I created with Bryan, Seth, and Jonathan during our IMS 212 class. We created a game that was based on Risk, Catan, and a dash of DnD roleplay. It was a strategic resource and army management game with a board that is different every time it is played. Players explore new lands and collect resources to build towns and armies. During the Game Awards playing session. I taught the game to two girls who came to the event. It is a very complicated game to explain, but they got a hang of it quickly and had fun doing so and voted for the game as their choice to win. The judge came by to ask questions of the girls while they were playing and took notes and went to go judge the others. The announcement would be tomorrow, but after the girls left, I had to pack up and run to go do volunteering for a different club of mine. I forgot a lot of the rules that my team and I created for the game and I hadn’t played the game since last semester, so it was a bit difficult for me to explain correctly. I also felt like I was keeping the players from other events they wanted to go to because my game was so long. Also, because it was long, the judge never even got a chance to play the game. Next year I will probably create a new game that will hopefully be shorter to play. I also think that the Game Awards should be advertised a lot more and encourage more people to turn in their games. Many IMS students make games for classes anyways, but there weren’t many games that were participating in the awards. There weren’t many people who came by to playtest the game either. I think location was a big issue there. The room was so far away from everything else so no one would walk by to see and be interested in it. I hope Game Awards will be much bigger next year.
Later that night, I came back to RECON to volunteer for Miami Game Design Club. I am vice president and I signed up to run the Murder Mystery for 2 hours and ended up staying there with my friends until closing time. The Murder Mystery was something we started creating last semester and involved a group of around 5 people to come into a room and read a bunch of different documents and piece together the murder of Steve, a journalist from the 1920s. We worked very hard on this event for a while and I was happy to run the event. The players looked to be very excited to play and some people did solve the murder in the end. I believe our event was a success which I was worried it wouldn’t be. All of the information to solve the murder was in documents and I thought players would get tired of reading so many papers that we created. Many of them created charts and timelines on the white boards and they really put their heads together to figure out new information. We could have made it more definitive though because it seemed that even when people got the answer, they weren’t positive they got it right. I did like our decorations and the story we created. It was very entertaining and because it was set in the 1920s, the last group ended up playing music through his phone to set the tone of the room. It was a very chill atmosphere and I would have loved to play our own murder mystery if I didn’t know the answers already.
On Sunday, I planned to come to RECON for the Game Awards and then go back to my dorm because it was an incredibly long weekend. I came to the pavilion where the Game Award announcements would be held and chatted with my friends until the judge came. It was a very small ceremony where the player’s choice and the judge’s decision were announced. My game ended up taking the win and I was very excited. One of my teammates was there and I gave him a little fist bump. It was very helpful to get feedback on the game we created from our class. He gave us a notecard with the notes he took about the game and his ratings on characteristics about it. He gave a high rating on the art which I created, and this gave me a lot of confidence. The entire Game Awards event seemed underwhelming. I know it is the first year it was held, but I wish it held a little more importance. There wasn’t a lot of time given for people to playtest the games and give their feedback. The judge couldn’t even play all the games in that time. The room was so tucked away from everything else, so it felt like an afterthought. During the awards announcement, the judge was late and there wasn’t much of an audience. The audience that was there was either the people who made the games, and people who just so happened to be in the same pavilion playing games on their own. The announcement was made off to the side of the pavilion and I didn’t feel much accomplishment even though my team won. Even my teammate seemed to be falling asleep even though it was noon on a Sunday. I hope next year is much more exciting. I think the Game Awards could really be something special that people look forward to every single year.
As I said, I only planned to come for the Game Awards announcements then I would leave. I didn’t leave. I got sucked into playing some of the play-to-win board games with my friends. This was probably the most fun I had all weekend. We played Planet and Root. Planet was an amazing game and it was simple to learn and understand. Each of us had a magnetic planet that we added terrain tiles to and tried to win animals during the rounds to have them inhabit our planets. All my friends really hoped that one of us would be able to win it so we can continue to play it after this event. After Planet, I was really intrigued by a game named Root. The art style reminded me a lot of the video game Night in the Woods. My friends and I pulled that game out and were suddenly overwhelmed by it. This game is very complicated, and each person is playing their own separate game with different objectives. We had two people come over to us to try to explain how the game worked and eventually we were able to start. We sadly could only play through 2 rounds before we had to pack up and put it back so the prize drawings could start. I really loved the idea of playing a game that will be randomly given to a person who played it. Free games are always fun but playing them first gives them an idea of how it works and an appreciation if they win it. It was also just a fun time to play with my friends.
The last part of my RECON experience was the prize drawings for both the ticket drawings and the play-to-win game drawings. The atmosphere during the drawings was incredible. Everyone was a good sport and hyped up every single person who won something, even if they themselves lost. It was humorous and relaxing. I didn’t win during the ticket drawings, but I did win the game Root which I was really hoping for. I now own Root and the title of Game Awards winner and that felt pretty good leaving Armstrong that day. After such a hard week and busy weekend. RECON created a positive atmosphere for me to forget my worries and just play with friends. I even got to play Bohnanza with my friends after the drawings which has been our collectively favorite game recently. The League of Geeks brings together so many nerdy and geeky people to one area to just forget about life and have fun playing and creating. RECON is such a large event and I was happy to be both a participate and a volunteer. I could appreciate it on both sides. I highly recommend that anyone should go next year. There is bound to be at least one event during the weekend that interests you.